Drop junk food and up your intake of Omega-3, says study

Eating a lot of processed foods isn't good for our health, including our brain health - this is where Omega-3 comes in handy

The palm of a hand holds three Omega-3 supplement capsules
(Image credit: Getty)

If your diet includes a lot of highly processed foods – a.k.a foods with refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and not very much fibre – then you are not only at a greater risk of weight gain and chronic disease, but you are also putting the health of your brain at risk. Action can be taken to prevent this, and science suggests we should consume a specific vitamin to help boost our brain health.

Health supplements like the best vitamins for women over 50 are already taken by many to ensure they get enough essential nutrients in their day-to-day life and to improve overall health at the same time. However, if you are especially concerned about protecting your mental cognition as you age, you'd better add the best fish oil supplements to the list, as a recent study has emphasised the importance of consuming omega-3. 

The study, published in the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal, firstly found that rats that were fed a highly processed diet for four weeks experienced negative effects to their memory, including noticeable memory loss. 

Off the back of the initial discovery, the Ohio State University researchers supplemented the rats' diets with DHA (this is an omega-3 acid often found in fish such as salmon, herring and sardines) and found that the rats showed no sign of memory impairment on this diet.

Salmon grilling

(Image credit: Getty)

This isn’t an isolated finding on diet and its effect on cognitive decline. This 2013 study also discovered DHA supplements to have a positive effect on the memory capacity of healthy, young adults. 

The omega-3 fatty acid, DHD, is known for its anti-inflammatory powers. Therefore, the researchers from the original study think it is likely that eating a diet high in omega-3 has an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain and protects the memory function.

One way of ensuring you have a diet rich in omega-3 could be taking it as a supplement every morning with your breakfast, or perhaps right before bed. Or you can have fun with cooking and incorporate more of the vitamin into your meals. Read our suggestions below on how to up your omega-3 intake and help protect the cognitive decline in your brain.

Three tasty ways to consume omega-3: 

  • Oily fish - grilled salmon is a great method of cooking to maintain all the healthy nutrients packed inside it, including omega-3. If you prefer the fish mixed with other foods you could try adding it to your next fish pie or pasta dish. Other oily fish you should consider eating more of are sardines, herrings and mackerel. 
  • Walnuts - these are a great source of omega-3 and as well as snacking on them in moderate amounts, they are also great over yoghurt or oats. 
  • Flaxseed - this type of seed is another rich source of omega-3 and can be blitzed into a smoothie or mixed in with a bowl of cereal. Alternatively, it is highly recommended to cook with flaxseed oil instead of other oils such a vegetable or sunflower. 
Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.